Call for Special Session Proposals

96th ESA Annual Meeting
Austin, Texas
August 7 - 12, 2011

Call Open: September 27 - December 2, 2010

We invite proposals for special sessions for the 96th ESA Annual Meeting to be held August 7-12, 2011 in Austin, Texas at the Austin Convention Center.

Special Sessions complement the formal scientific program, providing an opportunity for presentations or extended dialogue and exchanges beyond what is usually possible in the regular scientific sessions. These sessions are not intended for the presentation of formal research papers, and they do not run concurrently with the symposium, organized oral, contributed oral, or poster sessions.

Special sessions do not conform to any single structure. They may, for example, involve one presenter, a series of lectures or a panel; a film, video or illustrated lecture; a discussion; or some combination of these. The Program Chair has the option of scheduling Special Sessions either in the 75-minute time slot  (10:15-11:30 am) after the Opening Scientific Plenary on Monday morning, August 8 or during the evenings of Monday, August 8 -- Wednesday, August 10.  Evening sessions start at 8 pm and must end by 10 pm. To assist in assignment of a meeting room, you must indicate the expected minimum and maximum attendance. Special sessions may involve a ticket for a drink or refreshments for the participants, and it is important to include that in your proposal.

NOTE: If refreshments are served, attendees will be required to pay a fee to attend the session in order to cover the cost of refreshments unless the costs of these are covered by underwriting.

For examples of past special sessions, please consult the program schedule from the ESA Pittsburgh meeting, held in August 2010.
Proposals must be submitted on or before December 2, 2010, using the online submission site at

  1. Evaluation Process and Criteria
  2. Submission Procedure
  3. If Your Proposal is Accepted
  4. One Presentation and Organizer Limit Rules
  5. Session Fees
  6. Cancellation Policy
  7. Application Format
  8. Critical Dates

A. Evaluation Process and Criteria

Proposals for Special Sessions are reviewed and selected by the Program Chair in consultation with peers he may invite to assess proposals. Proposals may be from any area of science related to ecology, but those that pertain to the overall theme, “Earth stewardship:  Preserving and enhancing earth's life-support systems”, are especially encouraged. We also welcome proposals that explore connections with the social or natural sciences, or that are directed to ecological education at any level. The primary criteria for acceptance include scientific merit, probable interest by meeting attendees, and a clearly written and compelling description. Limits of space and time may make it impossible to accommodate all worthy submissions. The Program Chair has final authority for acceptance and scheduling for any proposed special session.
B. Submission Procedure

All proposals MUST follow the format of the online proposal submission form. Incomplete or inaccurate information provided on these forms may result in the proposal not being accepted. Information requested includes complete contact information for all co-organizers;  a description (250 word maximum); a summary sentence (<50 words); and a list of speakers/panelists, if appropriate. The description should include a justification for the session as per the evaluation criteria listed above. If there is a group/agency underwriting (financially supporting) the session, this should be mentioned in the session description or summary.

All sessions must have a lead organizer who serves as the primary contact. The lead organizer should be readily available by email and phone in the months leading up to the meeting and is expected to be present at the meeting. A secondary contact is also required.
C. If Your Proposal is Accepted
All organizers will be notified of the acceptance of their proposal by January 13, 2011. If accepted, your session description will be posted on the annual meeting website and a summary sentence will appear in the printed program. The description and summary sentence should be written with particular attention to attracting attendees and submitted in the correct format through the proposal submission form. Contributors and their topics can be mentioned in the description, but there is no space for a detailed agenda.
D. One Presentation and Organizer Limit Rules

Note that the One Presentation Rule does not apply to workshops and special sessions. Organizers, leaders and participants in workshops and special sessions are not precluded from also being the presenting author or coauthor of a poster or contributed oral, organized oral, or symposium talk. They may also organize a special session or a second workshop. To promote diversity of sessions and topics, no person will be permitted to organize more than two workshops and/or special sessions at the 2011 Annual Meeting.
E. Session Fees

An important note regarding funds: Acceptance of your proposal does not obligate ESA beyond assuring you of a meeting space and inclusion in the printed program. We stress especially that no ESA funds are available for honoraria, refreshments, special A/V needs, internet access, or travel expenses for special session participants. Further, meeting registration is not waived. ESA will not reimburse session organizers for expenses. Anyone participating in any capacity in a special session must be registered for at least one day. Organizers are responsible for making these facts clear to persons they invite to participate.
F. Cancellation Policy

Once a special session has been accepted and listed online, cancellation imposes a serious burden. Do not submit a proposal if you are uncertain that you will be able to fulfill your obligation to organize and conduct the session. Once a special session is accepted by the Program Chair, cancellation by the session organizers will preclude the organizers from being allowed to submit any proposals for special sessions for the 2012 ESA Annual Meeting.
G. Application Format

Please note that the information listed below must be entered on the website proposal submission form. It is provided here only to assist you in planning your submission. The website format may differ slightly from the format listed here. All information requested must be submitted.

 Components of a Special Session Proposal

  • Title of the session
  • Description of the session (250 words max.)
  • Summary sentence (50 word max.)
  • Names and contact information for the lead organizer, a secondary contact and any co-organizers
  • Expected minimum and maximum number of participants
  • Proposed starting and ending times:
    10:15 - 11:30 AM (Monday only) or 8 - 10 PM (Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday)
  • Preference of day for this session:
    Monday, August 8 - Wednesday, August 10
  • Anticipated equipment needs: screen, LCD projector, dedicated laptop computer, slide projector, overhead projector, flip charts, VCR and monitor, Internet connection (note that provision of an internet connection cannot be guaranteed and incurs additional fees)
  • Room set-up desired: theater, conference, hollow square, rounds, other
  • If applicable, underwriting of special session costs by a group or agency. Include name and amount to be contributed.
  • Is the session intended to follow a symposium or organized oral session? If so, which one?
  • Is the session linked to a business meeting or mixer of any ESA Section, Chapter, or other group? If so, which one?

You MUST submit your proposal using the website proposal submission form. You will be notified electronically concerning receipt, review, and acceptance of your proposal, using the return e-mail address that you provide. The notice of receipt will include a reference number that you will need to retain. If the return email address is incorrect, you will not be notified. If you do not hear from the Program Chair or the Program Coordinator regarding receipt of your proposal by December 8, 2010, please contact Jennifer Riem to confirm that your proposal was received. You may view your proposal by accessing the website and entering your proposal number. The website and proposal number will be provided to you when we acknowledge receipt of your proposal.

A list of accepted special sessions will be available on the ESA website when registration opens (typically late April). The organizer should check for the exact time and location of her/his session. Special sessions are typically open to all meeting attendees (unless ticketed to cover costs such as beverages or food), and therefore organizers will not receive a roster of participants in advance. As a courtesy, organizers should plan to notify all speakers/scheduled participants of the date, time, and place of the session once the information is available.

H. Critical Dates

  • December 2, 2010: Deadline to submit Special Session proposals
  • December 8, 2010: Contact Jennifer Riem if you have not received confirmation of your submission
  • January 13, 2011: Notification of proposal acceptance sent to organizers
  • February 18, 2011: Notification of date, time, and location of special sessions sent to organizers
  • Late April, 2011 List of special sessions posted to ESA meeting site. Organizers should check time and location of their session and notify their scheduled participants.

For further information, consult the ESA web page ( or contact the Program Chair, Tom Jurik or the Program Coordinator, Jennifer Riem.

Dr. Thomas W. Jurik
Program Chair
Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology
Iowa State University
Ames, IA 50011

Phone: (515) 294-5617
FAX: (515) 294-1337
E-mail: Thomas W. Jurik

Jennifer Riem
Program Coordinator
Ecological Society of America
1990 M Street, NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20036 USA

Phone: (202) 833-8773 x 218
Fax: (202) 833-8775

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Banner photo by Flickr user greg westfall.